The celebration at the Temple (Ezra 6:16-6:18)

“The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. They offered at the dedication of this house of God one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs. Then they had a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. Then they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.”

This appears to be the end of the Aramaic section of this book. This celebration is like at the time of Solomon, in 1 Kings, chapter 8, only more subdued. Certainly the priests, Levites, and the returned exiles were there, but there is no mention of the other Israelites who had not gone into captivity. These offerings are rather small when compared with earlier great celebrations. There were100 bulls, 200 rams, and 400 lambs, which is quite substantial. They even had the scapegoat sin offering of 12 goats for the 12 tribes of Israel. However, this celebration was really for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Very little was said about the other tribes. In fact, many of them may be their enemies now. Finally the priests and Levites were set in their distinctive Temple classes. Once again, it was King David who set up these classes and not Moses, even though the euphemism of “the book of Moses” is mentioned.

The celebration at the Temple (2 Chr 29:25-29:30)

“King Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the house of Yahweh. They had cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of King David, Gad the king’s seer, and the prophet Nathan. This commandment was from Yahweh through his prophets. The Levites stood with the instruments of David. The priests had the trumpets. Then King Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to Yahweh began also with the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of King David of Israel. The whole assembly worshiped. The singers sang. The trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped. King Hezekiah and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to Yahweh with the words of King David and of the seer Asaph. They sang praises with gladness. They bowed down and worshiped.”

During the burning or the cooking of the animal sacrifices, the musical part of the celebration at the Temple began. Here the musicians play a major role, unlike the Spartan sacrifices and feasts that followed the Mosaic Law. However, the justification of the musicians was from the prophets of Yahweh, particularly at the time of King David, Gad and Nathan. The king commanded this organized musical praise of Yahweh with a slight theatrical flair. Throughout the burnt offering, the trumpets blasted, the instruments sounded, the singers sung. All this happened during the burning or cooking of the animals until they were done. When they finished, King Hezekiah and his officials bowed down and worshipped. They then asked the singers to sing the songs of King David and Asaph, which is probably a reference to the psalms.